Friday, June 24, 2011

What the fuck should we do about Afghanistan?

I honestly don’t know.  Although I find the idea of making the motions of getting the fuck out of there is a good thing, I also think that it would be immoral to abandon the Afghans.  So, what do we make of Obama’s move to start scaling down the troops?

Well, a lot of people are saying that this is purely political, that he is ignoring the advice of military leaders, and he is only doing this to get more votes in 2012.  That could very well be the case, but we need to consider a few things before we roast him on the spit.

First, one of my cohorts posted two charts, one showing that troop levels have steadily increased during Obama’s presidency, and the second showing that casualties have also increased.  Now, Obama made the troop surge happen on the recommendation of our military commanders in the hope that it would help stabilize the country.  Has it?  To be honest, I’m not so sure.

What I do know is that the increased presence in American troops has led to the increased death of American troops.  That’s fairly logical: more troops = more combat missions = more targets for terrorists.  Many people argue that we should get out of Afghanistan because the cost in American lives is just not worth it.  Those who make that argument have little other choice than to support a move that has the potential to reduce American casualties.

Of course you have the choice to reject that, but then you’re not being logically consistent.  Speaking of logical consistency, if you’re a Liberal who believes in human rights and defending those who cannot defend themselves, then you can’t be totally foaming at the mouth to just completely tuck tail and run from Afghanistan.  Would it not be immoral to deny aid to those who cannot help themselves?

And for those who are arguing this from a fiscal standpoint, according to this article from the AP, the war occupies only $120 billion of our annual budget.  I know, “only $120 billion?!?!”  How can I trivialize such a huge amount of money?  Well, when you consider that our budget deficit is over $1 trillion, freeing up $120 billion may not have as large an impact as we would like it to have.  It’s definitely a good start, and it’s admirable, but there are other things that are eating away our money at a more staggering rate.

Besides, only some of the people that want to end the war for fiscal reasons actually give a shit about the deficit.  Most Democrats seem to want to free up that money just so that we can turn around and spend it on some more shit that will likely produce zero results.

Would a withdrawal be equivalent to fucking over the Afghans?  Maybe.  But the security of a society and the enforcement of its laws is not the responsibility of a foreign nation.  Karzai seems to think that the Afghan people are up to the task, and as long as they don’t start harboring Al Qaeda again, what’s to stop us from leaving?  The likelihood of the Afghan government starting to harbor terrorists again is unlikely, because they only have to look to the former government of Afghanistan to know what consequences those actions portend.

The Libertarian in me says we need to get the fuck out.  We need to finish the job as best we can, stop sending our boys and girls to the meat grinder (although it’s not nearly as voracious and destructive as previous wars), and not fucking so much as THINK about touching the savings we will get by ending the prosecution of this war.

The humanitarian in me, however, says that we need to make sure that we’re not consigning them to even more death and misery by leaving.

I clearly don’t have any good answers for this question, but I’m not going to shit allover Obama for this one.  He did promise to get us the fuck out of there, and by all accounts most Americans want to get the fuck out of there as well.


Silverfiddle said...

Immoral to abandon the Afghans?

How so?

Jack Camwell said...

Well, we go in there, essentially invade a sovereign nation, tell them that we're going to destroy the Taliban and help them make the country safe for Democracy.

We kill their people (although inadvertently), destroy their shit, and then say "oh, well, we're going to leave now," before we get them to a point where they can function on their own?

For a war to be just, the good that comes of it has to outweigh the horror that you perpetrate.

I know how you feel about the subject, Silver, and I just want to make clear that I'm happy that we're getting the hell out of there.

Anonymous said...

Hmm, well I do have a bit a trouble with your math there sir.

The country technically doesn't have a dime let alone 120 B or even the 10 T+ the bailouts will eventually cost us.

Also, you cannot separate the costs of the war from other related departments such as the TSA or homeland security, etc, add all those up and you will get a much more realistic number, not to mention the legacy debt we are going to have over this whole ordeal... hell we are still paying off the FIRST gulf war in some aspects.

I suppose the best answer to this scenario is to get out while we can and in the future think about how crazy it is to fight a limited war. If we aren't going in to totally annihilate a country then we shouldn't be in there invading them in the first place.

You cannot apply the same logic to the middle east as you do the rest of the world, they are on the whole a very resistive people, and that is why you have to rule like Saddam Hussein to have any sort of control.

Ultimately the people who are suffering at the hands of their government have to choose, just as our country did, and probably will do in the not so distant future if this socialist trend keeps up.

Jack Camwell said...

It's not my math, it's the AP's math.

Harrison said...

Obama did surge the troops but he did so at half the numbers his generals wanted. So that could be part of the reason for a possible FAIL. Also, 500 deaths last year out of 100,000 troops isn't exactly a D Day situation. I'm not suggesting our troops should be cannon fodder because only 500 died, but statistically that's still a small number.

I think Bush kept the troops in there too long or didn't pay enough attention to the mission but Obama always cast Afghanistan as the "good war" and the "necessary war" and pulling out the troops right before we vote is, well, clearly a cynical political move.

As I said in my article, the "stimulus" cost more than both the Iraq and Afghan wars and 9-11 cost more than the "stimulus."

Silverfiddle said...

Jack: They were far from sovereign, with all kinds of non-Afghan actors running around with impunity, and if we leave tomorrow we leave it a better place.

I have no illusions. We leave now or 100 years from now, entropy will prevail. You can't want something for someone more than they want it for themselves.

KP said...

"You can't want something for someone more than they want it for themselves."

Silver, that is a true as it gets.

Like Jack, I am not positive on the next step for us over there on the road to getting the hell out. The question I have is: were we in waist deep quicksand two years ago and are now in chest deep quicksand -- or visa versa. I can't quite tell; but I know I want out of the quicksand!

Jack Camwell said...

Silver I think your last statement is probably true, but your first statement, that if we leave now we're leaving it a better place, is in a realm that I cannot begin to judge.

I honestly don't know, and I'm not sure if any of we pundits can know, whether or not Afghanistan is truly better off now than it was. We might be able to say that it's better because the Taliban is no longer running things, and I can get behind that, but are they any closer to a Democratic society now than they were when we went in?

I suppose all we can do is wait and see.

Silverfiddle said...

I was just pushing back on your (unstated, my interpretation) message that we've destroyed their country.

At the very least, we leave them with way more infrastructure than they had before.

As for the rest of it, who will rule, will it be chaos... I don't care as long as we are out of it.

"People get the government they deserve" doesn't just apply to America.

Damien said...

Yes it is a hard issue, because it is so political and because of the issues back home. It is the same for us in the UK to a lesser degree and the military normally based here in Gibratlar are currently deployed there.

The factors that are important in my mind come down to three. The first is that since the surge, there has been positive results. Secondly, the interviews with troops there almost to a person all say that "yes they want to go home, they understand their families wishing that but they want to finish their job. Thirdly, the military tend to say the same. Fourthly, yes there is an obligation both morally and legally, considering the stepping in requires the job to be finished, that has not yet been achieved.

I disagree that Obama is doing so for elections, he has made that commitment from the beginning and he is not the type to go against the military leaders but has done so, my concern is that doing a "compromise move" helps nobody, in that the job may now be more difficult and he has not fulfilled his pledge to those who want the pull-out.

D Charles QC

William McCullough said...

Afghanistan has never been a sovereign nation n the accepted sense, but rather a loose affiliation of tribal or clan areas. They do however, band together to fight a common enemy or invader when not fractured by rivalries. Given the topography Afghanistan is virtually ungovernable out side of the major population areas. In the end it is of no strategic value to the U.S., and other than heroin, has no natural resources worth exploiting. As for Pakistan let China and India fight over that one. Just my opinion....WM

Damien said...

"other than heroin, has no natural resources worth exploiting"

William, that is actually not the case at all. Afghanistan currently has the largest recorded in-ground stock of precious metals in the world with more than one trillion dollars (the current estimate) in its mountains. Copper, cadmium, cobolt and most of all probably the worlds largest stock of lithium.

The issue is that without stability, there will be no mining and understandably NGOs and the Afghan government wants the people to benefit from it and not foreign mega-companies.

Silverfiddle said...

Also, Afghanistan would be an awesome tourism destination if they weren't trying to kill you.

The scenery is stunning (at least from the side door of a helicopter) Skiing, hiking...

They could be rolling in money if they marketed themselves right